The Last Watch
now dark outside as you take your unit out on patrol to guard your beat. The
night is starting off quiet when 1/2 way thru your shift, the radio blares SHOTS
FIRED. You hear the radio number it's your friend, your heart grows icy cold
with fear. I can not stop the pain and the anger - it is blinding my eyes, but I
have to keep my cool. There is a criminal on the loose who needs to be caught.
While across the city his wife is putting their children to bed. Telling them -
daddy will see you in the morning. Not knowing in front of her house the units
are pulling up, the police Lt., the chaplain are walking up the walk to knock on
the door and to tell a wife her love has slipped away, she hesitates and starts
crying, all that will be left will be the family pictures, home movies and
memories everyone will hold dear in their heart.
It was a criminal on a mission, he was determined to take a life that night. He
aimed his weapon and pulled the trigger and took the life of my friend and
partner, my friend's family is grieving, and I have to stay on my beat and guard
We took an oath to protect and serve no matter what. We can not back away in
fear. What is playing in the back of my mind, did I kiss my love one's goodbye,
did i tell them I love them. Yes I did, and hugged them goodbye. How will we
survive, we will - but some will not.
It will be left to us to tell the children their father will not return as he
was taken to heaven tonight. We will hold them tightly and wipe their tears
away. We will weep unmanly tears at your funeral as your casket passes before us
and your family will be remembering every memory they had before this tragic
day. She is standing at your casket turning her wedding ring round and round on
her finger. The emotions are too much for her heart, we are holding her up.
While a lone unit stands in front of the hearse, behind are hundreds of units
waiting to follow you to your final place of rest. You will be watching them
from the gates of heaven. The flags are at 1/2 mast. To honor your life. You
looked danger in the face my friend and it was to be your last living memory.
Now us left behind will have a black band over our shield that hangs over our
heart. And it is hard to hear Shots Fired in the dark of night - having to chase
someone into a blind back alley are the swamps, but we do it to catch your
killer, the predator who took you away from all of us.
You never passed a cry for help. You're an angel among us now. The sirens are
wailing, the sound is soaring thru the city all the way up to heaven. Who will
put your Christmas tree up this year, will anyone want to celebrate? No, we will
not - but for the children we will have too. We are holding the whole burden on
our shoulders - we will take care of them and not forget them. When across the
parish the alarms sound there is a 4-alarm fire and growing, you are awoken from
your sleep. You jump into your turnout gear.
The wail of the siren is calling you on the way there - not knowing this is your
last alarm. You're only 27 not even 28 yet.
The flames are shooting high into the sky. Someone yells a child is trapped
inside, you spring into action putting your safety behind. The rescue team
enters searching, then a flashover comes and your trapped and running out of
air, the floor gives way and you start falling but before you hit the floor -
the hands of angels catch you. Hopefully you felt no pain before you left us.
The sirens are wailing crying for the battalion chief who has to drive across
town with the chaplain and tell your family you've answered your last alarm.
It is the middle of the night when the knock comes on the door, it awakes you
from your sleep, it is Christmas Eve. The presents are under the tree, you open
the door half asleep - it is cold outside. When you hear the words that will
haunt your sleep for the rest of your life.
When behind you little Michael is coming down the stair awoke by the knocking.
Mommy is that daddy - did he bring Santa home with him. When you get down on
your knees - you dig deep down into your heart to find the proper words to tell
him - daddy will not come home, he is with the angels now and will live in your
While upstairs the sound of a new born baby cries. The little miracle born not
only 10 days ago. Who will not ever remember his daddy holding him. Sure
pictures will tell him who it is. But it will be you - who sick with fear of
your life ahead and alone - will have to hold that angel and calm its cries when
it is sick.
The battalion chief and chaplain try to comfort your grief with theirs but no
one can comfort you.
The hug you gave him before he left - was it tight enough, your lips are
remembering his last kiss and the words I LOVE YOU DARLING.
You sit on the sofa just looking at the picture on the wall. Wishing what you
heard was not true. He survived. But when the bagpipes play and the casket is on
top the fire truck as it passes his station for the last time and the tones go
off, it is real. Station 11 has lost a brother.
The city is silent - it is feeling your loss. In three days we have laid to rest
a policeman and fireman, one taken by a bullet the other fighting the flames of
hell. Trying to save a child.
You all gave your life doing what you loved - not for the money - but for the
love that comes from deep within your heart and soul. It is something only you
can understand. Your son has followed in your shoes and you cry at the dinner
table for your love you have lost. Your heart will never forget. Your bunk will
lay empty and your tired bones will rest.
The years pass when Little Michael is a man, he tells you he is following in
daddy's foot steps, your heart jumps but you do not stop him. He is his father's
son. The family of fire fighters from his station have set a place at the table
and a empty chair has sat there till the little boy who lost his father comes
into the station to answer the call of his heart. They will watch out for him.
Just remember brother - I love you. The station will not be the same with out
you but we will go on.. . .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dee Dee Serpas is a retired police officer from
Kenner Police Department (Louisiana).
Currently, she is the President of the TAPS Memorial Web site.
Following in the footsteps of her great-grandfather, Sheriff Paul Berthelot,
Sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish, and that of her father, who was
president of FOP Lodge 2 in the late 1950s, Dee Dee became a Police Officer.
First with the East Jefferson Levee Board Police, she also joined the Kenner
Police Department and was the only female to graduate from the academy that
year. Later, she joined the Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office as a street cop.
This makes her the only known female in Louisiana to have held three commissions
at the age of 21. Her first book, Behind the Badge in the Atchafalya Swap
is due out soon.